Since 2001, I have led photo and video field trips to the Neighbor Islands with 12 to 20 Academy art students. On our last trip to Maui, we visited the Ke‘anae Peninsula – a place I had been to many times before. In 1946, a tsunami hit the Hawaiian Islands, which pulled four teachers and 20 students to their doom at Ke‘anae. As one of four teachers and 20 students on our trip, it was impossible not to feel the tragedy at such a beautiful paradise.
As an artist, the challenge is to see the extraordinary in the familiar. In class, I teach theory, then ask students to not only apply the theory, but also to be creative in its application. Color theory has magenta as the opposite of green. Could I apply that here, where this verdant coast reminds me of its haunted past? Kuana‘ike or perspective is complex. Memories of the past and present intersect in physical spaces. Here, the contrast of white water, black lava and the miracle of color meet in an unreal setting, expressing my perspective.
Alex Selarque was born in Hawai‘i, and has taught visual arts at Punahou and advised the Oahuan yearbook since 1996. As a graduate of the UCLA School of Film & Television, he worked in Hollywood before starting his teaching career at the Art Center College of Design in Switzerland. He is the father of Chloé Nina ’11 and Sebastien Zenzo ’14.